Calidris Alpina Gathered in Xiamen

In recent days, many birdwatching enthusiasts in Xiamen city are keeping watch at the eastern waters of Xiang’an, and the annual winter migratory bird migration drama is staged here. At present, the main characters are Calidris alpina. They are stand densely on the tidal-flat area. When they take off, almost cover the sky. “It’s too spectacular. It makes me feel a little dizzy.” A bird watching enthusiast.

This kind of shocking scene will continue to appear next. At present, most of the winter migratory birds “spearhead” have already arrived in Xiamen, and will reach the peak in early December. In recent years, the ecological environment of the eastern seas and surrounding areas of Xiang’an has been stable overall, and the types and numbers of winter migratory birds that have come to winter each year have remained basically stable.

Foraging Habitat
Birds are densely packed on the tidal-flat area
A group of about 10,000 pieces

At 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday, bird-watching enthusiasts came to the eastern waters of Xiang’an and kept their presence in the place where they did not disturb the birds, waiting for the appearance of migratory birds. Soon, the sea began to recede and the tidal flats slowly emerged. Soon, a group of Calidris alpinas appeared on the surface of the sea. After flying a few laps, they landed neatly on the tidal flat. In just five minutes, there were five groups of Calidris alpinas flying from a distance. The number of groups are vary, some were forty or fifty, and some were more than one hundred. Birdwatching enthusiasts say that this is only their “first troop”, and the big troops are yet to come.

As the seawater continues to recede, the area exposed by the tidal flat is growing. About ten minutes later, there were a group of Calidris alpinas flying from far into the sky, the quantity are several times more than the previous ones. Soon after, the beach was covered with dense Calidris alpinas. A bird-watching enthusiast couldn’t help but sigh: “Too much, I feel a little dizzy.”

Birdwatching enthusiasts told us that the five groups of Calidris alpinas belonged to the “scouts”. They first came to understand the safety of the feeding place. Once the safety was confirmed, all the birds of the ethnic group would be notified to come for foods. If there is danger, you will be notified that you will not come over temporarily.

According to rough estimates, there should be nearly 10,000 waterbirds at this time, of which 80% are Calidris alpinas.

Freedom without being disturbed

Everyone maybe very curious. When the tide is low, the Calidris alpina will go to the tidal flats for foods. So where are they standing after the tidal flats are flooded ?

The senior member of the Xiamen Bird Watching Association has found one of the habitats of Calidris alpina. This is a pond located at the seaside of Cai’an in Xiang’an district. The pond looks very big, the area is at least a few dozen hectares, close to at the seaside, the water level in the pond remains basically unchanged. There is a embankment in the middle of the pond, which is made up of silt in the pond. Apart from the owner of the pond, few peoples go up.

At first glance, the embankment is unremarkable, and there is no difference between other ponds on the beach. If you look through a telescope, you will find the difference. Under the telescope, those dense gray spots are actually Calidris alpinas, dense as an ant colony, they jump up and down, and the sound of the cymbals floats in the wind. They are free to behave without being disturbed.

For winter migratory birds, foraging is important, and the most important thing is habitat, which is that where to stays after rising tide. These habitats must conform to such standards: It should not be too far from the feeding ground, the surrounding environment is safe and concealed, and the space should be large enough. This pond of Cai Cuo meets these requirement.

Migration path
Some will stays in Xiamen, and some will keep flying goes to south.
Farthest to fly to Australia

Through the telescope, it can be seen that the upper body feathers of Calidris alpina aconite are gray and the abdomen is white (the abdomen is black during non-breeding). They ran and stopped on the tidal flats, moving quickly and agilely. They hunted for food while they were running. From time to time, the black curved mouth was inserted into the tidal flat to explore the food. It was like a bird that “Catch up with the tide”. Where the seawater retreated, they went to find out foods. Some of the birds after eating even played with water, like taking a shower.

The Calidris alpina were moved from Siberia all the way south, and some of them stayed in Xiamen for a short time. It is expected to stay for about a week. After replenishing physical fitness, they will continue to migrate southward and fly to Australia as far as possible. Some of them will stay in Xiamen for the winter. Last Thursday, the “big forces” of Calidris alpina arrived in Xiamen. They may be grouped this week, some of them will stay, and some will continue to fly to south.

Various waterfowls will be together here
More big troops are already on the way

In the groups of Calidris alpina, we also saw a small number of winter migratory birds such as Calidris tenuirostris, Tringa nebularia, Tringa totanus, Charadrius leschenaultii, and Pluvialis squatarola. Waterfowls like to gather in groups, and once they are in danger, they can “Delivery information” each other. And they fly intensively, and they also create visual interference to natural enemies such as the eagle.

In addition, we also observed other winter migratory birds such as Larus saundersi, Red-headed Gull, Black-tailed gull, the white-shouldered pheasant, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Kestrel, Grey Plover, and Far Eastern Curlew in the eastern waters of Xiang’an. Among them, Far Eastern Curlew and Numenius arquata were listed as endangered species and near-risk species by the 2017 edition of the Chinese Birds List.

“The vast majority of winter bird’s ‘first troops’ have arrived in Xiamen. If want to observe the ‘big army’ of other winter migratory birds, we have to wait for the temperature to drop again. According to the records of previous years, it is expected that the “big troops” of migratory birds will arrive in early December and wintered in Xiamen.